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The NUT - the union that loves to say "Never"

By Mark Wallace
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SchoolThe National Union of Teachers would be well led by Rev Dr Ian Paisley - they appear to answer every policy proposal with the word "Never".

Whether it's academies, free schools, rewards for success, new approaches to teacher training, more rigorous curricula, or a greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy, every possible change to the education system brings forth the same response.

The latest demonstration of Christine Blower's rejection of change came this morning, in a Today Programme debate about Michael Gove's drive to raise standards at GCSE level. Any move to a more rigorous system would cause "uncertainty", it would "demean the achievements of students who have got GCSEs in the past", and would be "rushed" - despite not taking effect until September 2015 at the earliest.

The most pernicious argument the NUT puts forward is the idea that any reform is an insult to pupils who have gone before. The implication is that even if the education system currently lets children down, it is better that that should continue than any of those already betrayed should be offered any insult. Both the logic and the practical outcomes are offensive.

Imagine a world dominated by the NUT's aspic approach to policy-making. Weak sentences for criminals would never be extended, lest we give offence to the judges who had dished them out. Doctors would still be bleeding ill people to restore the balance of the bodily humours, in case it upset Hippocrates to use more modern techniques.

Such a world would be backwards, endlessly mired in the failures of the past for fear of upsetting anyone. It would be laughable, if the effects of the NUT's campaign against reform weren't so severe on school pupils, who miss out on the chance of a better education as a result.